We’ve been following a group of first-generation college students from Delaware as they transition to higher ed. In addition to running periodic stories about their journeys, we’ve helped each student keep an audio diary.
The below diary is from Cierra Jefferson, a freshman at Wesley College in Dover, Delaware. You can meet Cierra and read more about the first year, first generation project here.
June 17, 2015: “It already feels like it’s moving too fast”
My name is Cierra Jefferson and I graduated from Sussex Technical High School. I live in Seaford, Delaware and I’m 18. I work a lot and I like being around other people and hanging out with my friends. Next year I’m going to Wesley College in the fall. I’m gonna further my education outside of high school and study to become a registered nurse. Over the summer right now I’m studying to complete the TEAS test to get accepted into the nursing program at Wesley. I have to schedule to take that, but right now I’m studying for that. And I have an orientation coming up next week for scheduling and dorm rooms and stuff like that, as well. So I’m just trying to enjoy my summer as much as I can because it already feels like it’s moving too fast.
July 29, 2015: A first test
The only test I have to take for college placement is a TEAS test to get accepted into the nursing program at Wesley. I have not taken it yet, but from what I hear it’s quite challenging. And I have attempted to study by doing online practice tests when I have the time to around my work schedule. I work almost five-to-six days a week. This test—from what I hear—is very hard. But, I mean, we’ll see. It’s very stressful on me only because I’ve never taken it before. I know it holds some of the basic concepts of reading, math, science, and English language. And my only worry about the test is getting questions that may seem very hard when it’s just me over-thinking the question and it ultimately being very easy. But I just have to stay positive about it. It’s coming up this Saturday and I have faith I will do good.
[Editor’s note: Cierra passed the TEAS test on her first try.]
August 26, 2015: “It’s just the beginning”
As I’m unwinding and preparing for my big day tomorrow moving into Wesley the only thing that’s going through my mind right now is just excitement. I’m just very excited to move in….And I’m just very excited to meet new people. And with my family I know I’m gonna miss them but I’m gonna be an hour away and I’ll have my car so I’ll be able to come down and visit them if I get too sick. So I’m not too worried about it. I just have this mindset that I’m just gonna do well. All I can think about right now is sleep, as well. I’m tired after my last shift of Dairy Queen. I’m just on to new things. And it’s just the beginning. It’s just the beginning.
September 15, 2015: Getting a feel
College so far has been a breeze as far as classes, which is absolutely fabulous. But socially I would like to get out more. And that’s just my main goal, as far as right now. I mean I’ve joined the step team and I’ve had tryouts and made that. And I have a job on the weekends now so I’m slowly getting a grasp of what college is so I can do more outside of just book work and I can be more active. So I’m actually getting a feel of what college actually is.
September 28, 2015: Stepping out
So far socially at Wesley I’ve had the opportunity to get to know people better–more specifically the people in my dorm on my floor. We actually have got together, some of the girls on my floor to watch Empire, which is a TV series. We’ll all get together on Wednesdays and a lot of my friends will come to my room to watch it. But it just gives us a time to relax and laugh and go on about the show and make time with one another. It just gives us time to relax. But overall it’s helped and socially I’m stepping out. Getting out. Knowing different people, where they come from, who they are, and actually becoming great friends with these people. As far as adjusting, I’m still getting used to adjusting…it’s been hard.
October 5, 2015: A weekend break
As I’m getting everything in the car and I’m on my way home from work I’m just very excited. Excuse my CD player in the background, but I’m just really, really excited to go home after a long week of school and a long week of studying. Just a sense of a break of not being in the college…or not being on campus or not being in the dorms. But I mean socially I wish…that’s the only reason I would wanna stay. But everyone does kinda get upset or get upset when i’m on my way to leave. They’re like nooo don’t go. But as I’m gonna be on my way home I’m actually excited to see my family. I look forward to it.
October 27, 2015: Thankful, tired, and “looking for a finish line”
I think this week has been one of my longest weeks for some reason. I’ve just been very, very busy with classes and school and work and homework and tests. Last week I had about three tests so I mean it was very challenging, but I got through it. The work wasn’t so much challenging it was just finding the time to do it, which was challenging. And I’m just busy, very busy. Like it was hard even finding time to eat. But I mean, I managed.
I’m very thankful to be here right now, honestly. And all I can do is continue through. I mean the semester is almost over. And I’m just looking for a finish line….
So I’m just again very thankful. And I don’t know where I would be without my support. My family, God, everyone. So I’m just very satisfied and getting the hang of it.
November 23, 2015: Ready to go home
As I’m coming closer to the semester and Thanksgiving Break coming up I honestly can’t wait. I’m ready for the semester to be over. And I’ve been ready for quite some time now. But it’s really hit me that it’s almost over and we only have a few weeks left.
I’m nervous about finals coming up because I don’t really do so well with cumulative tests. But I’m just gonna have to study harder and put my time and effort into it.
But I mean I’m ready to go home. I’m ready to relax. Have some time off and not have to worry about working except for on the weekends. It gives me time to myself. Right now my eye is just on Christmas break and winter break. I’m ready for that.
December 7, 2015: “I’m going in with a positive attitude”
With finals coming up I really need to invest my time into studying. I haven’t really studied like I should be studying and I kinda wish I was studying a little bit more—being it’s Sunday night. But with the two 12-hour shifts I worked this weekend it’s been a lot for me to juggle. But I’m just looking forward to an end. I’m going in with a positive attitude taking these tests. I have this attitude, I’m gonna pass and that’s all that matters. That’s all that I’m worried about. But I definitely will have to study to in order to get the great grades that I wish to achieve.
December 27, 2015: “I wanna be…comfortable”
With the semester being over I can honestly say that I’m proud of myself. I passed all six of my classes with A’s. And I wouldn’t have done it any different. I know I pushed myself to get what I wanted. And I know what’s expected in the classes. And I’m very confident next semester because I know…what it’s gonna be like. And I just hope that I don’t lose my motivation. I hope I don’t start procrastinating. I hope I don’t slack off. But what motivates me is just…the way I’m working now just to pay for books is not the way I wanna work the rest of my life. So with an education I’ll be able to make good money, get a great career—not just a job—and live life the way I wanna live life and not have to worry about making payments on time or making sure I have this by a certain amount. I wanna be…comfortable.
January 4, 2016: No place like home
Being home from school, it’s awesome. I wouldn’t rather be any other place. And I’m just glad that the semester’s over. But there’s a new one coming very soon and I’m actually kinda dreading it. The only thing I’m really dreading is the workload. But I mean I have to get it done and over with. I couldn’t be any more than ready for summer. I’m just ready for the semester or this freshmen year to be over.
January 20, 2016: “The hard work is just starting to hit me”
So far this spring semester has been really hectic. The hard work is just starting to hit me. With beginning nursing classes it’s becoming harder, of course. And it’s just more difficult as far as prioritizing and time-management. Because the nursing program they expect so much work. And trying to juggle that along with all my other classes is a lot. And I mean it wasn’t so easy moving in. I did move back in by myself. I kinda wish that my dad came but he got caught up in something else. All that was going on it was really hard on me.
March 1, 2016: A welcome visit
The most interesting thing that’s happened to me in the last couple weeks would have to be my sister coming to visit me and her daughter, my niece, as well. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her. And my sister and I actually used to argue all the time. For her to come up made me realize how much I miss her. And we’re getting along better, being, I guess, the distance. I value our being sisters and I’m glad she came up. It just gave me more support—the idea of having more support. And I know that they wish the best for me.
March 14, 2016: Note to self–save more
My biggest regret in being in college—well this semester anyway—is not saving my money the way I should. I’ve been eating out a lot lately because I completely don’t like the cafe food, the food that they serve in our cafeteria. I don’t really like it. And not taking the time to study over break. If I studied over break i wouldn’t be stressing out about this math test. I’m one of the biggest procrastinators. But I’ll get through it. I’ll find the time to study. You gotta do what you gotta do.
March 27, 2016: Feeling comfortable
This semester I would have to say is by far harder only because it’s more work and I have more assignments due. And my classes are harder as I’m moving along into the nursing program. The tests get harder, each test. I would have to say overall I feel comfortable on campus. I feel more comfortable than I felt in the beginning. You see more familiar faces and people who you’re used to seeing everyday. It’s like you get to know each other more. You become comfortable with one another.
April 10, 2016: It’s not gonna be easy
The classes I’m taking for nurses right now—it’s just overwhelming, the textbooks, the amount of work that they expect you to read between the chapters. They’re very extensive chapters. It doesn’t make me not wanna become a nurse anymore. Because it’s not gonna be easy. If it were, then everyone would be nurses. But I mean it’s definitely somewhat of a challenge. And this—from what I hear from peers—is actually the easier course. Your sophomore year is one your hardest years.I’m not discouraged yet, but I feel like next semester it will probably hit me. But I just have to be prepared for it. And I’m up for the challenge.
April 24, 2016: A sense of pride
It’s finals week for me this coming week. And I kinda feel like school is really over. Like it’s really hitting me, like it’s over. I’m packed out of my dorm. It’s clean. I turn in my key Monday. It’s over. I feel like I accomplished a lot. I completed one year of college and it being my first year and I did very well in both semesters with great grades. I’m just really proud of myself.
April 31, 2016: A final message to the doubters
My first year I felt like it went really fast and I can honestly say it was kind of easy. There were challenges throughout the year, but overall it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was gonna be. But I know that next year it’s just gonna get harder. And for people who’ve doubted me and just being the first one to go to college and doing the right things and getting the right grades I’ve actually proved myself. And my family’s proud of me and I just couldn’t be any more excited about it. And I look forward to next semester and I plan on staying at Wesley and continuing nursing. And exams, they’re finally over and scores are coming back and I did well on my exams. And I’m not failing anything. And I’m ahead on my credits. And I’m just proud of myself overall. I’m really happy, what I did, and I wouldn’t have done it any different.